A Hunt subsidiary, Hunt Oil Co. of the Kurdistan Region, will begin geological survey and seismic work by the end of 2007 and hopes to drill an exploration well in 2008, the parties said in a news release Saturday. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Hunt is a privately-held independent oil company based in Dallas, Texas. A third partner, Impulse Energy Corp., also has a stake in the project.
"We're very pleased to have the opportunity to be a part of these landmark events by actively participating in the establishment of the petroleum industry," Ray L. Hunt, Hunt's CEO, said in a statement.
Hunt, who is also on the board of Halliburton, has been a key fundraiser for President George W. Bush, who named him to the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board.
Revenue will be shared by the KRG throughout Iraq, consistent with the Iraq constitution and the Kurds' new petroleum law, issued by the Kurdistan National Assembly early last month.
Despite Iraq's vast oil reserves, major international companies have sat on the sidelines, not only for security reasons but because of the absence of legislation governing the industry and offering protection for investments.
A draft oil law for all of Iraq has been bogged down for months, in part because of disputes over who will control the proceeds.
In August, however, the Kurdish self-governing region in northern Iraq enacted its own law governing foreign oil investments. The move angered the central government in Baghdad, but the Kurds are determined to push ahead with oil exploration.
Ashti Hawrami, the regional government's minister of natural resources, said in a statement that the signing by Hunt is evidence the government's new oil and gas law has created "a supportive and transparent business environment which promotes investment by international oil companies in our region for the benefit of all."
Associated Press Business Writer John Porretto and the AP's Robert H. Reid in Baghdad contributed to this report.